My elevator speech about commissioning boils the process down to documentation, testing, and training. Documentation is a constant throughout the commissioning process, theoretically starting with the owner’s project requirements and ending with the commissioning report. This month and next, I want to do a deep dive into two elements of the systems manual, which is one of the most beneficial documents to come out of the commissioning process. Both elements are critical for the ongoing sustainable operation of the commissioned systems. This month’s column will be dedicated to HVAC controls documentation, and next month’s will focus on non-controls-related operational instructions.
One of the most referenced parts of a systems manual is the HVAC controls section. This is because controls are complex, have many possible designs, and are not necessarily intuitive. We’ve spent a generation of commissioning projects providing systems manuals to building operators and training them on the importance of understanding the details and idiosyncrasies of their buildings’ HVAC systems. Even though the equipment in the mechanical rooms may look like things they’ve seen in previous facilities, there is about zero chance the controls are the same as what the operators have worked with before.